Some of my best friends in college were in a short-lived punk band and the only song of theirs that I remember was pound of shit, half pound bag. In the last few weeks we have been inundated with problems and produce and weeds and actual literal shit that at times it has felt impossible to keep on top of it all. I had the intention of using this post to highlight our little surprise roo, Freckle, and our attempts at forming him into a kind rooster leader to our small flock of hens. Most readers here probably also are aware of our Instagram @Fauxfarmblog, I have chronicled Freckle’s first few months there. Unfortunately he and another one of our young hens met their untimely demise by a gigantic hawk a few weekends ago and I am so sad we will not get to see this scrawny funny cockerel’s transformation into regal Rooster. It also put into perspective how ignorant we were about the dangers these chickens face in their large open yard. It was not like we had not been warned, I have seen so many horror stories on chicken Reddit (yes my Reddit subscriptions are alarmingly wholesome). Brady’s parents’ friends had a hawk decimate their whole flock so we were gifted an owl figurine that we lazily placed around the house sort of as a joke thinking, “these chickens had been here for years before we got there they will be fine”. We definitely learned our lesson and quickly started trying to come up with a plan to make the 2,500+ sq ft yard safer. Brady bought a whole lot of aviary net, I put some posts in, and Brady’s parents came over to attach metal rope to the posts to hold up the yards and yards of net. This whole process took a little under two weeks and in the meantime I found a new Rooster, a Barred Plymouth Rock free to a good home that was only a few weeks older than our young hens.
Of course, getting a rooster ends up being more complicated than just bringing him home and sticking it in with the hens. Our new guy, Monty, had to be quarantined to make sure he didn’t have any diseases unfamiliar to our chickens. A 30 day quarantine is recommended but Monty was also a surprise rooster (meaning he was meant to be a gal and his owner only wanted hens) from a pretty small, well-kept flock. I trusted the guy we got him from that he was in good health and after seeing him and his former roommates, Monty’s quarantine was cut down to about 2.5 weeks. The make-shift pen we had him in opens up right to the side of the barn, and it worked well for him but being right up against the wall of the barn really amplified his crowing. I’m sure our neighbors who normally wouldn’t really distinguish chicken sounds from the coop were happy when he finally got moved in with the rest of the hens this past weekend. Monty is pretty calm but he does have a habit of trying to come at me like he is the boss. To tamp down that instinct I have to prove to Monty, that no, I am the biggest rooster, and I dominate him. This was what we had just started to do with Freckle, but he was very fast and difficult to catch. Here is a good video exhibiting the rooster domming below. (This lady has a lot of random clips and build up so I have fast forwarded to the clip that exhibits what Monty and I do.) Monty has bitten me a few times, but he doesnt break the skin and usually he is pretty easy to get a hold of, and likes being held. We are working to sand down the bully instincts, but so far it has not been difficult as he is pretty tame already.
Post integration Monty has done well! After 2 weeks of relative quiet the gals were a little jarred to have a big guy in with them again but the younger hens have taken to him pretty quickly and the dust-ups with the older gals have been minimal. Hoping that our last two weeks of chicken stress and grief will abate for a while as the garden is coming in hot and heavy!
After a month of constant cucumber picking, brining, and pickling we are about to be hit with a giant wave of tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, and grapes. The image for this blog post is of one quart jar filled with one giant pickle that we gave to friends for a housewarming gift. Not so sure it is edible or appreciated, but what gag gift is. We have a compost pile but it is really hard for me to let things go to waste so I have been scrambling to try to preserve as much produce as I can. Some endeavors (first grape jelly) were a huge flop. Others, like salsa verde, marinara sauce, and classic dills have been a success and I have been hoarding jars whenever I see them. On the docket to try out is bloody mary mix, and turning the last of our green beans into more pickles to put into said bloody marys. I also have a whole tub of beets, and I think I am the only person in my household who likes pickled beets so I need some suggestions for them. I no longer have a juicer and they are just sitting in my fridge taunting me.
Other plants have been less of a success, watermelon vines are growing but I have yet to get a successfully ripe one off the vine whether it is from my impatience or literally from the weather knocking them off. I have only gotten 3 carrots to grow and then I maimed them in trying to harvest, and the snap peas did not take this year. Pretty soon I will re-try the snap peas and then plant some kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and attempt brussel sprouts for the fall. Also of note in the back field we tried out a pumpkin patch which has since morphed into an uncontrollable weed area. There we have a TON of butternut squash ripening, a few pie pumpkins, and one gigantic “Big Max” pumpkin that I am hoping turns into a real giant fairground prize winner behemoth.
Thanks for tuning in for another blog post mostly centered around death. I am hoping for a Halloween chock full of pumpkins and spookiness as we look forward to some kind of house party a year and a few months post moving in!
CHICKEN COUNT: 12
Cat Count: 1 Susie who is officially feline leukemia negative and can officially be an inside/outside cat!!! 1 Otis inside.
Salsa Verde Recipe